Collecting the tools of a sustainable, self-directed life


17- One Year In

Moving into my camper last October, I planned to spend the next year setting up routines, taming my land, building a home and writing every day.

One year in, I’ve gone through several routines, tamed about a tenth of my land, made a few improvements to my camper and written more days than not. While I only accomplished a fraction of my goals, what I learned during that time turned out to be much more important. After a year of simple living, I learned:

1. A house is not a cure..

For two and half years after leaving my job in NYC, I traveled, lived out of backpack and wrote. During that time, it was easy to blame setbacks and shortcomings on my transient lifestyle. But moving into my camper, I found that the setbacks and shortcomings didn’t stop. And I was forced to address the ways that I contribute to the gap between my goals and my accomplishments.

2. Trust thyself.

Two months into my move, I started to see how my fear of failure contributed to that gap significantly. Every time I tried something new—from cooking and camper repairs to planting saplings, landscaping or deciding how to develop my land, my fear of failure stopped me cold. But after countless false starts, I would eventually get what I needed to push through that fear. And after doing that a dozen or so times, I realized that no matter what I fail at, I will succeed. Even in the face of immobilizing fear, over this past year I consistently learned to fulfill my needs and my deepest desires. The more I remind myself of this, the more bold, free and productive I become.

3. My vision will take years—not months.

When I started this journey, I carried a specific image of home with me. A year in, I see now one critical piece that I overlooked—the amount of time it took to build it. Seeing where I am now, I understand why it took years to build the home I read about and I know it will take the same to complete my own. Today I find those years comforting because they will allow me time to breathe between the challenges required to become the person required to make my vision my reality.

Although I didn’t accomplish or collect all that I thought I would, this year of simple living forced to face the ways I was holding myself back. It gave me the time and space to work out my self-defeating thoughts and behaviors and become more self-actualized. It taught me how to live and grow and learn, accomplish, collect, curate, discriminate, create, and build the things I envision and let go of the things that I don’t. This year taught me that building a LIFE that is sustainable is about building a person, not a lifestyle.

For those who have made significant life changes, how did your perspective change one year in? Did your passion deepen or purpose become more focused? What did you learn about yourself during that time? Put your answers in the comments below. Let’s lean on and learn from each other.